Ibex and Saratoga Spring Flings
DE Rendezvous, April 2nd
By Ted Kalil
After Nelson Miller and I failed to locate the trail to Denning Spring on a pre-run, this trip’s destination was changed. So, at 9:00 a.m. Peter and Janet Austin, Ted and Joan Berger, Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Terry and Eileen Ogden, Bill and Julie Smith, George Gilster, Fredric Raab, and my wife Sue and I met opposite the Crow Bar Café in Shoshone. The attendees either hadn’t heard of my reputation or had chosen to risk it anyhow.
Our first destination was Ibex Spring, a site that had at first been a silver mine, later a gold mine, and finally a talc mine that was operated up until the 1950s. There are the remains of what were once buildings that supported these various efforts; the buildings are in serious disrepair. The Bureau of Land Management had once planned to raze those buildings, but after an agreement was made with the Mojave River Valley Museum to monitor, not improve the site, they agreed to let the site go into benign decline. Only pictures of the buildings were to be provided to the BLM to record this effort. We saw for ourselves the poor condition of the buildings and many pictures were taken.
From there we proceeded to the junction with the Saratoga Springs Road, where we held a brief meeting at about noon. A warning sign is posted there to alert travelers to soft sand on the road one and a half miles in. George Gilster and Ted and Joan Berger decided to take the relatively short trip back to the entrance highway and head back to Shoshone. The rest of us went on down the trail. There was soft sand beginning exactly where the sign had said, but the sand wasn’t that soft and all of our vehicles were easily capable of driving over this section; no one had any difficulty. A little further on we found a wide spot where we could put our vehicles in a circle and have lunch.
A short distance after that we came to the staging area for Saratoga Springs. You have to park there; it is a dead end, but a foot path takes you a very short distance to a view of the Springs area, largely covered with water and reed grass, an unusual sight in this dry desert.
Backtracking our steps to the entrance junctions, we later got on the well-maintained, but washboardy Henry Wade Road, and from there on out to the highway and the Henry Wade Plaque. Most of us got back to Shoshone by 3:00 p.m., in plenty of time to clean up and go to the Happy Hour and Dinner.
In summary, we came back with 75% of our original participants – a C grade, but passing. However, everyone did make it back, there were no mechanical problems and, despite its name, no one died in Death Valley. Maybe I’m doing better, maybe just got lucky.